Friday, November 27, 2009

Erik is 11 Yrs Old Today

Today was Erik's birthday and he had a little party with some of his friends and siblings. Instead of getting gifts for himself, he requested that everyone bring a Christmas gift for kids who live at an orphanage in Mexico.

As these kids get older, for their birthday they choose a charity and ask their friends to bring toys for less priviledged children.

It was a fun party, and the kids made their own pizza's and had a scavenger hunt. They showed up at my RV asking if I knew what a traveling fork was? I guess they must have had it figured out before they got here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

San Angelo, TX & Grandchildren

The 5 E's - Erik, Elisha, Emma, Ellie & Everson

Ellie and Erik (Grandpa Tom built this Western style traveling jail)

This is Everson

Emma the beautiy (12 yrs old)

We arrived here on Sunday afternoon. Special attraction here are the five E's: Emma, Erik, Ellie, Everson, and Elisha. After not seeing them for a long time, it was so great catching up on things with all of them as well as Doug and Deja, their parents. The kids have certainly grown and Emma at 5' 3 1/2" is about as tall as I am. We have been busy getting things set up here, as we plan to be here until after Christmas. We are set up in their yard and have found it is quite convenient.

One little guy, Everson, 5 yrs. old has been enjoying our little house tremendously. From the time we get up and he sees there is life in our place until night time, he likes hanging out at our place. He has just been busy taking it all in, and it's something very different to him, as he was so young when he moved and hasn't gotten to spend as much time with us as the others. He likes everything about our little house, including taking naps on our bed, making sandwiches in our kitchen, and cuddling. He said to me the other day, "Do you know what I like best about your trailer, Grandma? What I like best is you and Poppy!" We are so happy to have this special time to spend with him and all the kids. It has always been a long time between visits.

The three oldest Emma, 12, Erik , almost 11, and Ellie, 9 have been very busy getting ready for there performances in the Nutcracker. Both Emma and Ellie have been studing Ballet and Emma has been in the Nutcracker every year since they moved here. This is Emma's first year of doing Pointe, which makes it extra exciting for her. For the past 2 years, Ellie and Erik also have parts. Ellie will be a mouse in Act 1 and Erik will be a Party Boy and a Gingerbread kid. I am told it is quite a performance and Al and I have really good seats for opening night.

Elisha is just 2 yrs old, so he doesn't know us too well yet. In spite of that, we managed to get a few cuddles from him.

Al has been busy working on the electric hook-up and figuring out the solar. We are trying to use the solar as much as possible and only use their electric when necessary. We had some issues with the solar yesterday, so Al is investigating it today. It is great that we are able to use a combination of different kinds of power for various things. We can put the refrigerator and the hot water heater on gas or electric plus some of our lights work off the 12volt system, so we can manage pretty well in most situations. We try to be conservative with our energy as much as possible without sacrifing comfort.

Hope you aren't bored with a Grandma's rants, but I know some people are curious how things are going here for their family in Texas. Things seem to be going very well !!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Kerrville-Schreiner Park, Kerrville, TX

We left New Orleans area on Thursday. We spent last night in Baytown, TX in an RV Spot at a Cracker Barrell Restaurant. After having dinner there, we asked the manager if we could stay in their lot overnight. It was very well lit and had security cameras. We slept good until about 5am, when their dumpsters were then unloaded. We couldn't get back to sleep, so we decided to get up and stopped for breakfast at one of Al's new favorites, Waffle-House. It seemed good to get an early start. as we knew Houston would be really bad at rush hour. It was worse than anticipated because of heavy rain, plus the freeway was closed due to an accident so we were forced onto another route. Luckily we had the GPS, which I don't use all the time, because Al doesn't like that Lady. He says she overexplains everything, and he doesn't like her voice. We got the idea to nickname her from some friends of ours. He decided to name her May B. because she may be right or she may be wrong. Sometimes you need to have a sense of humor, especially when traveling. Luckily, today she was right-on, and she took us right where we needed to go and back onto Route 10. Thanks, May!

It is slightly more stressful when you are pulling that 38' beast down the highway, and no one wants you in front of them. At one point we were almost hit by an eighteen-wheeler. Another truck driver cut him off and he started into our lane, and we had no where to go. Luckily, he acted quickly and an accident was avoided, whew! Finally, around 8am after going through the worst driving conditions, we stopped in a Supermarket parking lot to take a rest. We both decided a nap was in order and we slept for over an hour. That is one big advantage of taking our house with us!

We found a nice RV park owned by the city of Kerrville. They charge reasonable rates, and have pull through sites with all utilities. We are planning on staying here until Sunday and will then head to San Angelo, TX to visit my son, Doug and his family. We plan to be there until after Christmas. It will be really nice seeing them as it's been a long time. I'm sure the kids have gotten taller since we last saw them! I can't wait!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

We Love New Orleans!!!!

Well, finally we made it back to New Orleans for a whole day. We had a great time! We left the campground around 9 am and didn't return home until 7pm. We took the Ferry over again. It drops you off by the Riverwalk Mall.

Al, being the kid he is just had to ride the streetcar. We decided to get an all day pass ($5) and that way we could get on and off the streetcar as many times as you wish. It is not only intended as a tourist thing, it is also the main transportation for many people who live in N.O. to get back and forth from work and school. Since there can be a lot of walking involved, it was a big help in getting from point A to point B. We still did a lot of walking as the Streetcars only ride along the perimiter of the French Quarter. We thought it was pretty cute when the driver announced at one stop, "Cafe Du Monde". I guess he knows where most people go when they get off that stop. LOL

We visited the St. Louis Cathederal pictured above. It is so beautiful and hard to imagine anyone building anything like that today. We took a horse and buggy ride and it was very enjoyable. We got a lot of history of the French Quarter. Actually though, it was a mule not a horse as the city only allows them to use mules. There were several different vendors offering you rides, so we had a chance to pick who we wanted. We were told at a tourist center to bargin with them for the price, but we didn't think $12 each was bad so we didn't bother.

We had lunch at a place that was recommended by a few different people called "The Gumbo Shop." Al loves cajun food which is surpising since he is usually doesn't like spicy food. Anyway, he likes gumbo and since they were rated no. 1 for their Gumbo, this is where we went. The food was very good there.

After lunch we decided to go out to the Garden district where there are beautiful homes and gardens. We took the streetcar that goes out that way. It was about 1 & 1/2 hrs. out there and back. More of the people going out that way appeared to be locals rather than tourists. There were even school kids riding it. I think I would be nervous, it they were my grandkids. Some of these kids were young.

I suppose many of the tourists would take these expensive tours to go out there, but My Al, just loved the streetcar, and for him this was far better than any tour we could have taken. At one point we sat up front so he could watch the driver and see how everything worked. At the end of the day, he even thanked me for letting him ride the streetcar. I guess he's just a kid at heart!

I could go on and on, but it is just a city that is so alive! You feel energized just being there. Anything goes, and nothing surprises you. We saw a man dressed up like a cowboy, and painted with silver paint from head to toe. Musicians were performing on the streets everywhere you go. I am told if you go there in the evening there is much more to see.

Before taking streetcar back to the ferry, we had to stop at "Cafe du Monde" for one more visit! Then we hopped on a streetcar that took us back toward the Ferry.

We are planning on going back with our truck and driving through the 9th ward which was hit the heaviest when the levy's broke. This is where Brad Pitt and others are helping to rebuild.

Thursday am we leave here and are heading toward Texas.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cheap Seafood Anyone!

It's interesting what goes on in towns across our country. I have often thought it would be fun to hang out in different places and just observe different things that go on there. Things you don't see at home, but is common place where you are visiting.

There is a little makeship strip mall of flea market type booths in very close proximity of the entrance to the park we are staying at here in Westwego, LA. We had been by it many times, and I hardly noticed. Yesterday, Al said lets go see what that is about. So we stopped and there were 15 to 20 different vendors selling shrimp, oysters, crawfish and rattlesnake meat and other types of seafood. They call out to you with their sales pitches as you walk by. We had just bought a bag of frozen shrimp at Sam's Club, so we weren't in the market for any. It appears to be very fresh, right off the boat. $2.50 to $3.50 pr. lb depending on size.

We didn't have our camera, so we stopped by this morning and took a few pictures. Not great pics, but you can get an idea.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Chillin in New Orleans

Well, we haven't been back to the Big Easy yet as we have been hanging out here in this beautiful place and taking in the great sunny weather. We plan to be here for at least another 5 or 6 days and would like to spend one whole day in New Orleans taking in the French Quarter.

One reason we haven't been back yet, is because we have had a problem with our hot water heater. Al has figured out the problem and needs to order a part. We do still have hot water, it just doesn't work on gas, and we can only use it on electric. So, we got a late start again today and decided to go another day. I don't really want to go Saturday or Sunday either, as we don't like crowds. Are you starting to get the impression we are not tourists?! Well, actually we don't feel like we are. We are just making ourselves at home wherever we go. Yesterday, we went to Sam's Club and WalMarts. It seems like they are nearby wherever you go. We stocked up on things we needed and had to be creative as to where to put everything. It can be a challenge. Anyway our cupboards and fridge are now well stocked.

When we leave here, we plan to head toward San Angelo, TX where my son, Doug and his family live. We wanted to be there by early December to see the kids in their Nutcracker performances and that is the weekend after Thanksgiving. So, we figured it might be a good idea to go a little early and we can all be together for Thanksgiving.

Back home in NY, our grandson, Will has been in Albany Medical Center with a bacterial infection. It is hard being away when things like this happen. I spoke to Sam tonight and it looks like they caught it early and he is doing much better. Hopefully, he will be able to go home in a day or 2.

I'll report back when we finally get back to seeing the sites in New Orleans.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bayou Segnette State Park, Near New Orleans

We arrived at this campground yesterday. Hurricane Ida turned into a tropical storm, so we decided it was finally safe to travel . This is a really nice state park and campground. Plus it's close to everything. The campsites are large and can acommodate large rigs. Notice the trees in the picture that I took just outside our patio. All the roots are showing. I had never seen this before. Most in the park seem to be this way. We were told that this park also suffered a great deal of damage from Katrina and many trees were lost here as well.

We were advised to take the Algier's Ferry into New Orleans instead of driving there. It is free to ride the ferry and it drops you off in the French Quarter. We decided to just go for a couple of hours today, as we got a late start. We drove to the ferry, and it was only a five minute boat ride over to New Orleans. We decided to go to the famous Cafe Du Monde in try their coffee and beignets! They were wonderful and now Al insists on going back there again tomorrow. Cafe Du Monde is the original coffee shop in New Orleans and has been opened since 1862. Many people told us we must go there and we are glad we listened to them.

Tomorrow we plan to do a little more touring. We didn't see that much today, but we sure did do a lot of walking. I'll post again in a couple of days when we have spent more time in New Orleans.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Dodging A Hurricane

Because we have wheels on our house, we decided we would get out of Dodge for a few days! Due to all the warnings on TV regarding Hurricane Ida, and the warnings for widespread flooding, we decided New Orleans could wait a few more days. It may turn out to be of little consequence, but who needs to take the risk. So we traveled north to a place that is 80 miles north of New Orleans.

We were looking in our Passport America book(1/2 price camping) and a place was listed off Exit 61 of Interstate 55. It had an interesting name, but we decided to check it out anyway as it was only 2 miles off the highway and our discounted price was only $10. The name of the place was "The Garden Prayer Center and Campground". When we arrived, it looked to be deserted and I felt like it was a little spooky. We did see a couple of run-down trailers and one had a truck out front. We rode by and a guy came out and talked to us. He had a little bity trailer and through the door I could see a huge TV screen. He told us to just go ahead and pick a site. As you come in there is a locked box, so put your money in there, as it is the honor system. He said they only get a couple of campers at a time this time of year. After some discussion, we decided the campsites were more than adequate for our needs, a place to hang out for a couple of days, when the weather isn't good. Later, after we parked the guy came by and chatted with us. He says the campground is owned by a church and they use it for Church functions and rent it out to other groups as well. They also rent out sites to RVer's who are just driving through. I guess he helps keep up the grounds for them as he was driving a tractor mower when he came by.

Since we have a sewer connection at this place, I'll be able to catch up on laundry while here! Now, doesn't that sound exciting?! Well, anyway, it sure beats having to go to work tomorrow!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fontainebleau State Park, LA

We are now staying at Fontainebleau State Park, LA. This park is on the shores of Lake Pontchatrain across from New Orleans. We are less than 50 miles from New Orleans. We could easily drive from here to New Orleans for a day trip, but decided we would want to visit New Orleans for more than just a day, so on Sunday we are moving from here to another State park much closer to the city. We have just been relaxing and taking in the area. Lake Pontchatrain is a very pretty lake and from the beach we can see the huge bridge (largest in the world) that spans over it to New Orleans. It is so far away, though that I was unable to capture it in any pictures. The bridge is 28 miles long.

This State park was badly damaged during the hurricane. Buildings were demolished and many, many trees were lost. It has now been rebuilt and over 5000 new trees were planted. It is a very pretty park, but I am told it is not the same as it used to be.
The weather has been great. Yesterday it reached 80 and today was in the 70's and sunny. It cools down nicely in the evening and even gets kinda cold at night (we like that). We are still trying to get used to this, but so far.....we sure are enjoying it!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Gulf Coast Still Rebuilding

We took a ride along the beach driving from Ocean Springs, Mississippi through Biloxi, and to Gulfport, MS. We were very shocked at what we saw here. After four years, Hurricane Katrina has still left its mark. Vacant lot after vacant lot where homes once stood. Many buildings were still standing but totally destroyed. Where there were buildings, most seemed to be brand new.
It is hard to imagine how hard it must have been here right after the storm for the residents and the business owners. We took many pictures, but after a while, I just gave up, as it was all the same. You either saw missing buildings, destroyed ones or brand new!

We saw a firehouse that was destroyed, but still standing and we were shocked to see that there were a couple of firetrucks and other equipment parked inside. It appears they are still using the building to store their equipment. There was a trailer in front, which I am sure they were operating from.

There were workers still rebuilding and the people seemed to be going along and doing their thing like nothing happened. The beaches and the ocean is still beautiful as you drive along. It struck us that those of us from the Northeast are lucky to only have to put up with the snow, ice and the cold. I never could have imagined that it would still be this bad here. Al said he doesn't think it will ever get back to the way it was. It will take decades before things are more normal.

The first picture shows a newer building and if you look closely, you will see a wood carving. There were several of these scattered around. Trees destroyed by the hurricane, but still standing, were carved into interesting shapes and designs by a very talented artist.

I guess a dose of reality is good once in awhile. We are planning on going to New Orleans soon. I don't think I will want to venture out to the areas that still have devestation. I can imagine it must be even worse there.
In spite of this, we have been having a great time, the people here are friendly and the weather has been warm and sunny!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Gulf Islands National Seashore, Ocean Springs, MS

We are in Ocean Springs, MS staying at the Gulf Island National Seashore Campground. This is a National Park and offers camping at a very reasonable rate. Regular price is $16.00, and the rate for seniors and those with disabilities is half that amount. We have water and electric and are very close to everything. The park is very peaceful and the grounds are well maintained. I had thought that the National Parks didn't have any ammenities, but I guess I was wrong on this one.

Last night we went out to a popular local restaraunt for fried catfish and hushpuppies. Very good food! Today we took a ride around the area. Ocean Springs is a quaint little town on the Gulf. It has very nice beaches and although it was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina, it has managed to rebuild most of what was lost. However, there is still evidence of the damage that was done. The people here take a lot of pride in their town and worked very hard to rebuild it.